Kalamazoo-based Zeigler Automotive Group ranked as the 62nd largest dealership group in the U.S. with 15,090 new car sales in 2017, according to an annual ranking in Automotive News. Last year, the company generated $1.08 billion in revenue with 23 stores in West Michigan and the Chicago area and one it just sold in New York. Despite projections for slowing auto sales nationally, President Aaron Zeigler said the dealership group has experienced a strong start to 2018 with sales up more than 20 percent in January and February and with business on track for an all-time company record month in March. “It isn’t even close,” he said during a recent interview at the new Zeigler Motorsports store in Comstock Township. He spoke with MiBiz about the car dealer business and his company’s success through an intentional focus on leadership training.
Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for March 19, 2018.
• M&A: Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage Co. will enter the Upper Peninsula market after acquiring the beer distribution business of Bayside Beverage from Highland Park-based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits LLC. The move also consolidates distribution for the MillerCoors family of brands as well as opens a new territory for Imperial, which now has four locations in Michigan, according to President Joe Cekola. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal included an 18,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Ishpeming, Mich. as well as distribution rights for Constellation Brands’ import portfolio, the Boston Beer Co. family of brands and a handful of craft beer brands, including Michigan-based Griffin Claw Brewing Co. and Latitude 42 Brewing Co. Imperial plans to hire roughly 20 employees as a result of the acquisition, including four employees from Bayside. A year ago, Imperial also expanded into spirits as an authorized distributor agent for the state. For Great Lakes Wine & Spirits, the deal follows an August sale of beer distribution rights in Traverse City and Petoskey to Grand Rapids-based Alliance Beverage Distributing LLC.
One West Michigan-based automotive dealership group continues to grow its Chicago-area presence.
As the leader of a family-owned business, Aaron Zeigler can relate to the owners of car dealerships acquired by his Kalamazoo-based Zeigler Automotive Group. The $1 billion (revenues) mega-dealer has grown by acquiring other family-owned dealerships in recent years, earning it a national ranking of 64th in new car sales last year, according to Automotive News. Zeigler, a second-generation owner, spoke with MiBiz about the intricacies of buying other family-owned dealerships in an era when the automakers often control whether a transaction can move forward.